Conservation of Forests by Tizu Valley Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihood Network (TBCLN), Nagaland
Nagaland falls in the North-Eastern biogeographic region of India and is a part of the Indo-Burma (Myanmar) Biodiversity Hotspot of the world. The Sema communities of Sükhai, Kivikhu and Ghukhuyi villages in Zunheboto district of Nagaland have formed a Tizu Valley Biodiversity Conservation & Livelihood Network (TBCLN) by creating Community-Conserved Areas (CCAs) around the Tizü river. The conservation area is spread across 9.39 sq.km of the forest landscape and harbors a variety of fauna such as sambar (Cervus unicolor), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), jungle cat (Felis chaus), etc., along with the critically endangered Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla). Several aquatic species found in the Tizü River that flows along the boundary of CCA have been included in the IUCN Red List of threatened species such as, Neolissochilus hexagonolepis, Devario acuticephala, Devario naganensis, Schizothorax richardsonii.
Need for the Initiative
The Sema community depends mostly on Jhum cultivation, hunting and fishing for their subsistence. They once relied almost exclusively on traps, and bow and arrow for hunting, but later on, the desire for improved standards of living paved way for overexploitation of natural resources with reduced Jhum cycles destructive fishing practices and rampant hunting of wildlife including endangered species such as the Chinese Pangolin, resulting in depletion of local biodiversity.
Conservation Initiatives and Impacts
The village councils in association with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Nagaland Forest Department, devised strategies to conserve the biodiversity. This led to the formation of Tizu Valley Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihood Network (TBCLN) in the year 2017 – an initiative where each of the three villages set aside a parcel of land and deemed them as Community Conserved Areas (CCA). The conservation area is spread across 9.39 sq.km of the forest landscape around the Tizü river. TBCLN collectively conserves biodiversity through collaboration amongst neighboring tribes, reviving traditional conservation practices and creating alternative livelihood opportunities to incentivize conservation activities. Rules have been set in the CCA and adjoining 37.51 sq.km, banning Jhum cultivation. An Apex Committee has been formed by a nomination process by each of the member villages and it comprises a President, Vice President, General Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasurer. The roles and responsibilities are well-defined. The rules and regulations formulated by the Apex Committee apply to all the villages that are a part of the CCA network, and everyone is required to abide by it (TERI 2015). A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Nagaland forest department and the village councils to provide technical assistance for effective conservation and management of the CCA. The Village Councils of the three villages manage the civic affairs and are in charge of administering rules and regulations in the CCAs. A restriction has been imposed on the collection of forest products, grazing, Jhum cultivation practices, felling of trees, hunting of wild animals, sale of bushmeat and forest products and use of destructive fishing methods. Regular patrolling is carried out by the youth in and around the conserved area and a WhatsApp group has been created to share information of defaulters, who are fined heavily by the respective Village Council. Members of the community have been trained on identification of local flora and fauna which has helped in the documentation of local biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge in the People's Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) as mandated by the Biodiversity Act, 2002. TERI is also mobilising the community to develop ecotourism as an alternate source of livelihood where the trained youth can serve as field guides. The Titli Trust has provided training to the youth to hone their ecological knowledge and skills. Surveys have been initiated to attract niche tourists, recording 222 species of birds, more than 200 species of butterflies and 200 species of moths. Infrastructure has been developed for facilitating homestays for tourists. A roster is maintained assigning households to host tourists and earn additional income. Each village hosts a Chengu (Great Barbet) festival annually, where the community and the local administration join hands to celebrate biodiversity conservation. As a result of the initiatives, the local people are already reporting improvement in sightings of terrestrial, and aquatic fauna. Linking CCAs across the landscape and expanding such a network has not only provided a safe abode to the wildlife but has also improved connectivity for wildlife movement in the region. The formation of the conservation area may further result in ecological benefits such as decrease in soil erosion, restoration and natural regeneration of degraded forest ecosystem, and availability of non-timberforest products.
Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards
The Tizu Valley Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihood Network received special mention in the India Biodiversity Award under the category ‘Sustainable Use of Biological Resources’ in 2018.Contact Pia Sethi Tel. +91 9811222321 Email: email@example.com